Fewer than 20% of public-sector workers are consulted about important decisions, and over half do not trust their bosses, a study says.
The findings help to explain the low level of employee engagement, said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Its survey of more than 2,000 adults showed that those in private firms were more likely to trust their leaders and be consulted.
The CIPD said there was a "worrying" deterioration in employees' satisfaction with being able to put forward their views, an issue which it believed was highlighted by the report into the Mid-Staffordshire NHS.
Ben Willmott, of the CIPD, said: "Strong employee voice supports effective corporate governance and risk management by allowing staff to air concerns over problems, for example, with customer service, patient care, product quality or inappropriate behaviour.
"In some organisations, as in Mid-Staffs, lives could be at stake unless employee voice improves, but in countless others the consequences could range from poor performance right up to failures to stop criminal activity and fatal damage to the organisation's brand and reputation.
"Given the importance of trust in senior leaders, we see a need for a fundamental change in the nature of leadership in the public sector."
Those surveyed were split between private and public sector, with a few in the voluntary sector.